Who invented the term "WASH" for water, sanitation, hygiene? (Wikipedia article)

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Who invented the term "WASH" for water, sanitation, hygiene?

Dear all,

This is just minor question but I am curious if any of the more senior folks can help me with this: Who invented the term WASH (for water, sanitation, hygiene, see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WASH )? Was it really WSSCC?
I read on Wikipedia on the page about WSSCC ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Supply_and_S...ollaborative_Council ) the following:

After 2000, WSSCC expanded its work to include advocacy and communications. It introduced WASH as an umbrella term for water, sanitation and hygiene; this acronym has been broadly adopted in international development circles.


Is this statement correct? If yes, can we find a document from WSSCC in the year 2000 where the term WASH was first used?

I came across this paragraph while doing some work on improving the Wikipedia article on WSSCC.*

I am wondering how useful the term WASH has become. I can imagine that it's helped to be a "rallying" point, however, I find it has perhaps too much of an emphasis on washing and water somehow. At the BMGF they use the term WSH instead of WASH, although that doesn't roll as easily off the tongue...

Regards,
Elisabeth

* Please help if you have knowledge and references to improve the article about WSSCC further: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Supply_and_S...ollaborative_Council . References that are by third parties that talk about WSSCC, not just references by WSSCC itself are particularly helpful.

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Re: Who invented the term "WASH" for water, sanitation, hygiene? Was it WSSCC in around the year 2000?

Dear Elisabeth,

Regarding your questions Who invented the term WASH?, Julius Krischan and Dick de Jong answered your question on Knowledge Point after I had cross-posted it there: knowledgepoint.org/en/questions/3663/who...hygiene/?sort=latest

Julius Krischan said on 16 January:

Well probably unrelated, but the word "WASH" seems to have been much more popular in English language books in the 1970 & 80: books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=WA...t1%3B%2CWASH%3B%2Cc0


Dick de Jong wrote on 15 January:

The acronym WASH was indeed coined by the members of the WSSCC who were dealing with advocacy and Communication, but it emerged over a tIme frame of some three years.

Documents on that can still be found online. I was involved at that time as IRC Communications Officer And Editor of the Source Bulletin that IRC co-procuded with the WSSCC.

Here follow some quotes and links: From my Advocacy TOP 2003: The WASH campaign was launched at the Bonn Freshwater Conference in December 2001. It emerged from the earlier efforts on public information and promotion for water and sanitation in the 1980s, followed by the work of an international working group on Information, Education and Communication (IEC) of the WSSCC. This group from 1991 - 1997 developed and tested various advocacy and communication tools.

www.ircwash.org/resources/advocacy-water...nitation-and-hygiene

From various issues of Source Bulletin that are available in PDF format from www.ircwash.org/sites/default/files/Sour...no.15-no.20-2001.pdf

WSSCC sections in Source Bulletin no 16 of May 2001: The Council reported that it would change emphasis from applied research results sharing to advocacy for influencing other organizations on key WASH themes. Some 250 "ambassadors" for VISION 21 agreed to this change in the Igacu Action Program at the 5th Global Water Forum of the WSSCC in Brazil in 2000.

The Council itself will to become more visible on the world stage both at established major events (Bonn, 2001, Johannesburg, 2002, Kyoto, 2003) and through pursuing a higher profile media coverage. To this end, a new advocacy and communications strategy has been developed, which will be implemented following agreement and ratification by the WSSCC steering committee.

In Source Bulletin No. 17, July 2001: Steering committee members and 20 other strategic partners met in Geneva on 17 and 18 May 2001 to discuss how the IAP programme is being implemented. The general atmosphere was good, positive, and supportive, with many useful suggestions for potential action. These actions were grouped under a number of headings: Sanitation/ hygiene education Institutional and management reform Community-based approaches Advocacy Monitoring Networking Dissemination of knowledge and best practices

That same issue carried an article about the setting up of a new advisory group on WASH advocacy. It was composed of six core specialists from different fields - ranging from radio, television and print media, to social mobilisation and the Internet. Other experts in the communications arena will be called upon to join in the group's discussions, which will take place mostly in the virtual world.

As an expert group of communications professionals with track records of undertaking advocacy and communications activities at national, regional and global levels, AGWA will act as an advisory arm of the Council's Steering Committee. The group will develop a global strategy in advocacy and communications for water, sanitation and hygiene within the context of poverty reduction and sustainable development. AGWA will hold its first meeting at WaterA id in London, from 19 to 20 July 2001.

The WSSCC organised a well-attended panel discussion on the first day of the Bonn International Freshwater Conference on the title: "On the road to Johannesburg - Putting water and Sanitation on the Political Agenda". That resulted in an Outcome Statement: Sanitation is not a dirty word. Do you hink you can live AND work in safety whilst 6,000 people die needlesly every day? End the apathy and inaction! This appeared in Source Bulletin no 21 in January 2002. In Bonn the Council launched its Global WASH campaign. A few months later WSSCC and UN-Habitat launched its first WASH campaign focussing on poor areas in Nairobi, as reported in Source Bulletin No 23, June 2002.

When ministers at the Bali CSD prep-meeting for the 2002 World Summit for Sustainability Development cited the WSSCC WASH campaign as a model of how global initiatves can connect with local, national and regional partnerships other WASH campaigns started. At this WSSD in Johannesburg the WSSCC launched its new "tear-out" publication WASH - It is the Big Issue, along with post cards and stickers, streetpole ads and a revamped web site. The goal: to draw urgent attention to what it called almost 50 years of neglected issues of sustainable development that are the very foundation of public health.

After that splash at the WSSD, with improved sanitation added as a target to MDG 7, the WASH acronym got more and more popular and institutionalised, even outside the sector.

Googlng I found the Council's WSSD 2002 campaign note at www.un.org/spanish/conferences/wssd/docu...aign_note_020125.doc

I hope this helps,

Dick de Jong, enjoying retirement


Regards,
Evelyn (on behalf of the SuSanA secretariat)

Posted by a member of the SuSanA secretariat held by the GIZ Sustainable sanitation sector program
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Re: Who invented the term "WASH" for water, sanitation, hygiene? Was it WSSCC in around the year 2000?

Hi Dick,

Thanks a lot for your detailed response!! Much appreciated. Now I have to try and massage/distill that into a statement that I could put in the Wikipedia article. Perhaps something like "The first mentioning in an important publication was by xxx in xxx". Which of the ones that you listed above would you recommend that I take for this purpose?

And do you recall any sort of meeting or discussion where people were pondering over the pros and cons of calling it WASH? Were there any particular people in favor of it and others against it? Did you hear discussions at a later stage where people liked or didn't like this accronym?
And I guess some people still prefer to spell it WaSH.

Hi Kris,
Thanks for pointing out that graph ( books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=WA...t1%3B%2CWASH%3B%2Cc0 ). I find it hard to interprete it though. Maybe rather than looking at Google books one should look at the search history on Google proper? But I don't know how to do that.

Regards,
Elisabeth

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Re: Who invented the term "WASH" for water, sanitation, hygiene? Was it WSSCC in around the year 2000?

Another reply has come in on knowledge point about this question:

knowledgepoint.org/en/questions/3663/who...hygiene/?sort=latest

by The_Specialist | RedR Experts | Feb 4 '16

As a member of the 'more senior folks', I thought I should point out that the acronym originated early in the International Decade for Drinking Water Supply and Sanitation Decade, 1981 - 1990. However, it was coined by USAID for their Water and Sanitation for Health project, so I think it is a bit cheeky of the WSSCC to claim its origination, they only repurposed it!


Ah, interesting! Does that mean the term WASH used to mean "Water, sanitation and health" (coined by USAID in the 1980s) and was later (in the early 2000s) modified by WSSCC and IRC to mean "Water, sanitation and hygiene"?

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Re: Who invented the term "WASH" for water, sanitation, hygiene? Was it WSSCC in around the year 2000?

I guess I qualify as a "more senior" member of the WASH community. Starting in about 1995, USAID has a project called the WASH project that was set up to provide USAID with technical expertese but that also developed many knowledge products used throughout the global sector. I do not know if that was the first time the phrase was used - but it certainly pre-dated the use of the term WASH by the WSSCC.

Eddy
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Re: Who invented the term "WASH" for water, sanitation, hygiene? Was it WSSCC in around the year 2000?

Dear Eddy (and all),

Thanks a lot for your valuable contribution here! Based on what you, Dick and "The_Specialist" said (see posts above), I have now modified the text on Wikipedia as follows:

On the article about WASH, the history section ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WASH#History )

History [edit source | edit]

The acronym "WASH" was used from about 1988 onwards as an abbreviation for the "Water and Sanitation for Health" Project of the United States Agency for International Development.[19] At that time, the letter "H" in the acronym stood for "health", not "hygiene".

From about 2001 onwards, international organizations active in the area of water supply and sanitation advocacy, such as the Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council and the International Water and Sanitation Centre (IRC) in the Netherlands began to use "WASH" as an umbrella term for water, sanitation and hygiene.[20] "WASH" has since then been broadly adopted as a handy acronym for water, sanitation and hygiene in the international development context.[21]

The term "water" in this acronym is generally understood to refer to water supply only, not e.g. to integrated water resources management (IWRM) or water resource management in agriculture.

(to see what the references in square brackets are, see link above)

And on the article about WSSCC, history ( en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Water_Supply_and_S...tive_Council#History )

After 2000, WSSCC expanded its work to include advocacy and communications, and began to use WASH as an umbrella term for water, sanitation and hygiene from about 2001 onwards.[42] This acronym existed as early as 1988 as an abbreviation for the "Water and Sanitation for Health" Project at the United States Agency for International Development.[43] "WASH" has now been broadly adopted in international development circles.[44]


This removes the earlier claim that it was WSSCC on its own who had "invented" the term WASH.

Do people agree with this wording?

And I would still like to add some pros and cons about the term WASH, if someone would like to help me with that?

You might be wondering "why is she so obsessed with getting things on Wikipedia right?". Well, time and time again I've heard from newcomers that their first hurdle in reading our documents was that nobody explained the abbreviation WASH. So what would a newcomer, or a journalist or a politican do? They would turn to Wikipedia and see how it is explained there. So we might as well make sure that the explanation on Wikipedia is one that we believe is correct.

Kind regards,
Elisabeth

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Re: Who invented the term "WASH" for water, sanitation, hygiene? Was it WSSCC in around the year 2000?

muench wrote: And I would still like to add some pros and cons about the term WASH, if someone would like to help me with that?


It's a nice sector internal abbreviation (better than "WatSan" that was used a lot before), but since it goes of the lips so easily you will hear it being used when addressing people from outside the sector (regular villagers even ;) ).
But for most people the term WASH, especially when spoken, will be associated with "washing", so maybe hand washing, or general hygiene, but certainly not with sanitation infrastructure for example.
Thus the people who managed to introduce the "hygiene" into the sector were maybe a bit too successful, to the point where it now often seems to dominate the discussions, especially at the cross-sections with people from outside the sector.

Krischan Makowka
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Re: Who invented the term "WASH" for water, sanitation, hygiene? - And: Watsan or WASH for the French Wikipedia article?

Dear Elisabeth,

Many times, I have seen WASH written as WaSH, since "a" in this is the second letter of Water.
I, quite often, gets mixed up - whether I should go for WASH or WaSH.

Since you are doing research on this, you may try to find out whether it should be WASH or WaSH.

Regards,

F H Mughal

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Re: Who invented the term "WASH" for water, sanitation, hygiene? - And: Watsan or WASH for the French Wikipedia article?

Hi Mughal,
You said:

Since you are doing research on this, you may try to find out whether it should be WASH or WaSH.

It is nowadays more often WASH than WaSH. That's also what Wikipedia says so it must be true! ;-)
See here:
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WASH

The main spelling is given as WASH. Alternative spellings are Watsan or WaSH.

Want to know more about Wikipedia and who edits it and how?
Come to the virtual work room which is open right now and until Tuesday 21 March at noon GMT!
Just come here: seint.adobeconnect.com/wpeditathon/ (no password required, simply enter as guest with your name)

Regards,
Elisabeth

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